A federal report released Monday found homelessness was up 5.6 percent in Washington and 3.7 percent in Oregon, two of 19 states to report an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

In both states, the majority of homeless people are unsheltered. California saw a slight decrease of 1.2 percent, as the number of people living on the streets fell in Los Angeles and San Diego, two epicenters of the homelessness crisis, suggesting possible success in those cities’ efforts to combat the problem.

Cities along the West Coast have driven the overall spike in the number of homeless people nationwide in recent years. This year’s count continued that trend, showing 552,800 people without homes across the country, up by about 2,000 from 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s point-in-time tally. It was the second consecutive increase after seven straight years of declines.

Kate Budd, executive director of the Vancouver-based Council for the Homeless, attributed homelessness along the West Coast to unaffordable rents. She said low-income people devote 40 to 60 percent of their income toward rent, sometimes even 90 percent if they’re on a fixed income.

“The more of their income that’s going toward rent, the more likely they are to fall into homelessness,” she said.

 

Written by the Columbian staff and wire reports

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